Category Archives: Genres of Writing

“How to Make an Email and See the World”

This picture book title merges my interests in early literacy and children’s literature with my work experience in the travel industry.

In my post from last week, I referenced my customer service experience and although I am aiming to generally direct this blog toward those with an interest in early literacy efforts (a.k.a. my “customer”), this week, since I am exploring the connection between an expertise to a particular genre, I am going to focus on the communication I used with my typical client at Madden Media. Continue reading “How to Make an Email and See the World”

Let’s Talk Shop

My previous posts have established by now the idea that the automotive industry is highly technical, an idea that I think is not generally contested. I discussed in my last post some of the diverse communities I tenuously belong to by virtue of simply having regular contact with them. Though much of this contact is verbal (face to face personnel share a more social aspect of the discourse) the majority of inter-industry communication is done in writing, whether it be mailed letters, e-mails, catalogs, price schedules, etc. Because I had mentioned that I have to be Hazmat certified I thought it would be interesting to include a snapshot of an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) to demonstrate how written communication works in a community whose regulations are extreme. Continue reading Let’s Talk Shop

Teaching (Writing or Anything Else) Through Experience

How do you teach something without first knowing the subject inside and out?

Answer: not very well.

As a 12th grade English teacher, it is part of my job to teach my students effective communication, both written and verbal, as they prepare to enter the collegiate or working world. In order to teach my students how to communicate, I need to first understand the complexities of it myself and then use that information to communicate effectively to them. Bazerman writes that when we take part in a certain academic conversation or text, we “take on the mood, attitude, and actional possibilities of that place…do the kinds of things you do there, think the kinds of things you think there, feel the kind of way you feel there, satisfy what you can satisfy there, be the kind of person you can become there,” (13). He describes communication as a social construct, a community to voluntarily engage in and become  a part of. I need to get my students there. I need to look at who my audience is and prepare them for the type of communication they are about to engage in–and from there I can teach them to do the same with their audiences and utterances.

Continue reading Teaching (Writing or Anything Else) Through Experience

Truth in Genre


“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”

– John F. Kennedy

As a high school English teacher, I have more of an opportunity to write e-mails, letters of recommendations, and even a graphic organizer, but a lengthy, in depth paper is few and far between. I have an unusual take on writing because I don’t write–I teach it.  My goal then, when it comes to writing is to facilitate it and help students or most of them, for the next stage in life, which is college. I do not teach students to write just because the Common Core State Standards says so. I do not teach them to write because in the state of Wyoming the ACT requires them to write. I teach them for the very reason Mr. Kennedy says so. I feel it is my responsibility to to advance knowledge and help my students disseminate truth.  “Truth” is an interesting word; because I am an English teacher I love to look for word origins, and because I am a curious person, I like to see how other cultures view truth: Continue reading Truth in Genre

Teaching Genre, Accepting all Voices

In my last post I proposed that we try to step away from the grading (and perceived value) of Standard English in our classrooms. This poses many concerns in the writing classroom, including the question: what on earth do we teach in English writing classes if not Standard English? My proposition is that we teach the inclusion of all voices and backgrounds, as well as a general acceptance and respect for diversity. And if that doesn’t sound academic enough, then how about this: an understanding of genre and discourse communities coupled with critical reading, writing and visual literacy skills.

I have to admit, I’m surprised at myself for proposing the teaching of genre as a solution to oppression and discrimination in the classroom. Continue reading Teaching Genre, Accepting all Voices

On the Verge of Future

AVID juniors in high school stand in a frustrating quagmire.  They are knowledgeable about the campus, protocols, teachers and events- real big fish in a little pond.   As  upperclassmen they are very aware that their time in high school is  edging towards graduation.  Especially as their older friends and classmates begin narrowing their college choices and worrying about their future roommate.  However, a high school junior is still in high school.  They see the future, yet are stuck in the same desks that they have plopped themselves into for the past two years.  As their AVID teacher, my job is to have them writing for prompts that they are not expected to be able to complete for another year, all while convincing them that they should always strive for college level writing.  I basically tell them that although most of them are not writing close to the collegiate level, I still expect them to strive for that ability before they reach their senior year. Continue reading On the Verge of Future

Genre and the Creative Writer

I think a lot of people in this world wouldn’t dare call themselves an artist. Do you consider yourself an artist? Someone that creates something from nothing? To even get into the definition of an artist would require an entire blog or lifetime worth of study. However, I’m certain that this community of writers we have created is devoted to writing in any capacity, simply because it is what they love to do. This little community has brought together educators, editors, and writers from many different backgrounds. Consequently, all of these styles have created a sort of melting pot of writers that have each come from a unique style and genre. Continue reading Genre and the Creative Writer

Writing for a travel audience

In travel writing, you must know your market above all else. The reason is two fold. First, it is important to know your market because you are offering advice to those who may have never been to a particular destination. Second, it’s important to know your market, because as a travel writer, you are part of a discourse community filled with other travel writers, who may very well be reading your work. And they will not hesitate to call you on it if you get something wrong.

Continue reading Writing for a travel audience

Puzzling Out Genres

Nancy Maloney Grimm in Good Intentions:   Writing Center Work for Postmodern Times shares how for her “…one of the satisfactions of writing center work is figuring out the tacit expectations of academic literacy and making those expectations explicit for the students who want to ‘make it’ “ (1999, xv).  As a writing coach at our community college, I echo that sentiment and draw energy from it weekly.  Yet, as inspiring as it is, I say it isn’t enough.  That work of “figuring out tacit expectations” shouldn’t begin and end at the doors of the writing center.  While I hope that it continues to fuel writing center work, I argue that this work needs to seep beyond writing center walls and find its way into the writing classroom.  As a writing instructor, “making those expectations explicit for the students” should be my goal as well.  Examining the writing we do in class–both my students and I–may be a good place to start.

Continue reading Puzzling Out Genres

Writing What You Know

Have you ever been so angry with someone or a particular situation that you were able to draft a very well-written, passionate response to what angered you in the first place? Did you notice that it came easily and the words flowed effortlessly? I think this is something that we have all experienced at least once in our lives. For me, I have noticed that when I write about something I am passionate about, the piece that I’m writing seems almost effortless because I am personally invested and I have my own experiences and knowledge that I bring to the subject.

Typically, when you are passionate about something, you are knowledgeable about the subject matter. The passion you feel for the subject has led to years of experience and learning all you can about that particular subject. Continue reading Writing What You Know